Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Solomon continued...
Often times God need speak only a handful of words to turn our entire world upside down. The words He spoke to Solomon in his dream seemed simple and straightforward enough, but what they implied was unimaginable in scope.
God did not qualify his offer to Solomon. He did not say Solomon could not request something over a certain amount, or something not easily attainable, God left the offer wide open wherein Solomon could have asked for absolutely anything.
‘Ask! What shall I give you?’
I have often wondered if I would be as wise as Solomon in what I would ask for if God were to give me the same opportunity.
What would you ask for if you could ask for anything, and know you would receive it?
It is a far more complicated question than it would first appear. For many it would depend on the precise moment the offer was made, for others whether their pride was overriding their sense of reason, for others still if their focus was on the material rather than on the spiritual.
It’s easy to say we would choose a wise and understanding heart as did Solomon, but saying a thing and following through to the point of actually doing the thing we said we’d do are very different animals. It all goes back to the heart, and whether or not the heart is surrendered to the plan and will of God. When God makes an individual an offer such as this, they will ask for what their heart desires most, because the offer of ‘anything’ amplifies the desire of one’s inward parts. We know Solomon desired wisdom, or a wise and understanding heart, because it is what he asked of God when he could have asked for anything.
Another aspect of this exchange impossible to ignore is the generosity God exhibited toward Solomon.
There were no stipulations; there was no maximum price set by God. Anything Solomon would have asked of Him, he would have received.
Throughout the Scriptures God proves His generosity, and we see His tendency to exceed man’s petitions, prayers, or expectations. Ask in faith, and you will see the generosity of God manifest in your life. Ask in faith, ask according to His will, do those things which are pleasing in His sight, and whatever you ask, you will receive from His hand.
1 John 5:14, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
Many people ask of God, they do so repeatedly, fervently and passionately, yet they do not ask according to His will. The key to this verse is that we ask according to God’s will and not our own. God’s desire for our life is oftentimes very different than our desire for our lives.
If we are honest with ourselves, most all of us would desire a life of ease, of comfort, of accomplishment, of success both materially and relationally, because it’s human nature to want the best for itself.
When our prayers include anything other than for God to be glorified through our lives, whether through our joy or our sorrow, our abundance or our lack, our sadness or our gladness, we are not asking according to His will, but according to our will.
For most professing Christians today, the glory of God is irrelevant as long as their physical needs are met, and the trinkets and toys they desire are given them. As vehemently as some might disagree with me on this point, the evidence supports my supposition. Men who teach other men avarice, selfishness and greed are themselves rewarded by those they teach with the material excesses they instruct their followers to covet.
Men with divided loyalties and corrupt hearts seek teachers who will not challenge their lifestyle and encourage them to continue pursuing the things of this earth, and the hireling shepherds exploit their niche to its fullest by continually focusing on this one topic.
Our confidence comes from knowing that we have asked according to the will of God. It does not come about due to our own perceived righteousness, nor does it come about because we think we’ve racked up enough good deeds to deserve an answer from God.
I’ve met individuals who were certain God would answer a wholly selfish and hedonistic prayer, just because in their mind they’d done enough good to warrant an answer. We’re not trying to cash in frequent flier miles here; we’re coming before the God of all creation and petitioning Him for something. Whatever that something might be, we will never have been able to deserve or earn an answer from God, but in His goodness, His love, and His mercy, He does hear us and answer us when we pray according to His will.
1 John 3:22, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
When we keep God’s commandments, when we do those things that are pleasing in His sight, we can approach God with confidence, and come before Him with assurance.
There is an implied reciprocity in this passage, one we would do well to heed and understand. It is because we keep God’s commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight that we receive from Him whatever we ask.
When we are obedient toward God and when we are wholly surrendered to His will for our lives, when we pray, we know God will answer. We have access to God as His beloved, as His children, and not as ones who are illegitimate or whom the Father does not recognize as His own.
One of the many benefits of living out our faith, of pursuing righteousness and holiness unto God, is that we are able to come before Him fully assured that He hears us when we pray to Him. It is when we allow duplicity to worm its way into our hearts that our prayers are uncertain and there is no confidence in our petitions toward God.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.